How do I contact Mass General to have my case evaluated for proton therapy?

We encourage potential patients to seek referrals through their primary care provider (PCP) or local radiation oncology specialists. If these individuals are not familiar with proton therapy, they can call the proton inquiry line at 617-724-1680 or email for details.

Do I need special approval from my insurance provider to receive proton therapy?

Pre-approval from your insurance provider is required since not all insurance providers cover proton radiation therapy. Many insurance providers will only cover proton therapy for specific diagnoses, therefore it’s important that your insurance provider cover the specific diagnosis being considered.

What are some of the side effects from proton therapy?

Side effects will depend on the patient’s age, medical history, diagnosis, disease size and location. Some patients may receive chemotherapy in conjunction with proton therapy; some will receive much lower radiation doses than others and therefore symptoms will vary significantly. Common symptoms include temporary hair loss and skin reactions in the direct path of the radiation. Fatigue is also associated with treatment to large areas.

Once accepted for proton therapy how do I find lodging and how do I coordinate transportation if I am from out of town or the country?

Click here to view an overnight accommodations list. If you are concerned about temporary lodging and/or transportation, please call our oncology resource specialist at 617-724-0295 or ask your radiation oncologist to place a referral.

How do I coordinate my proton treatment appointments?

We recommend communicating any treatment time preferences early on during your consultation with your radiation oncologist to pass on to the staff who create your appointments. When you begin your treatments, please also discuss your appointment time needs with your radiation therapists. Please be aware that scheduling is often limited by technical factors such as the need to use specific configurations of the treatment machine. For example, one of the treatment rooms is needed to treat pediatric patients under anesthesia. A block of time is reserved in the morning when anesthesiologists and the appropriate equipment is available to treat these pediatric patients.

How are treatments scheduled?

As is the nature of this advanced and highly sought-after treatment, we have many patients who present with extremely challenging and time-sensitive illnesses. We prioritize patients based upon medical urgency and available resources. Our current treatment day operates from approximately 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM, Monday through Friday, except for hospital holidays. Your appointment will be scheduled during those hours. You will be notified of your first treatment appointment time on the Friday before your start date. We request you remain flexible with your availability for treatment.

Why does it take longer to treat me with the proton therapy compared to conventional radiation therapy?

To ensure the greatest accuracy in daily set up for treatment to minimize radiation exposure to normal structures, diagnostic quality images are performed daily prior to receiving the treatment. These images check and correct the patient’s alignment to be spot on before the radiation beam is turned on. We minimize the risk for error and minimize radiation side effects by ensuring highest precision set up.

Why do some patients receive both conventional x-ray therapy as well as proton therapy?

Managing the potential benefits from proton therapy is done on an individual case basis. In some circumstances it is advantageous to combine these therapies just like it is sometime advantageous to combine radiation therapy with surgery and/or chemotherapy. The goal is to provide the optimal access to patients who would benefit from proton radiation therapy. With experience using both high-quality x-ray and proton therapy, our physicians are well equipped to determine the appropriate combination that is optimal for patient’s individual treatments.